Readers Poll Results: The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

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AsianMan

"If any of you know a lick about guitar innovation, influence, diversity, technique, speed, accuracy, rhythm, sound, style, etc, you'd know that Eddie possesses ALL OF THE ABOVE!!! If you you don't think so, you're an Eddie hater, jealous or just out right guitar illiterate!"

Eddie Hater? Let's be realistic here. IMO he has more of an influence on others than anything else. His technique is sloppy, his speed is sub par, accuracy has diminished over the years, and his rhythms aren't at all complex. If you want to talk about someone that excels way beyond in the criteria you listed(other than influence since he's isn't as well known as Eddie) then that would have to be Guthrie Govan.

He has the speed to match Paul Gilberts, as well as being super clean in his playing, he is probably the most diverse guitar player being that he can play well in every genre the guitar is welcome in, his accuracy is top notch, and his rhythm and tone are ridiculously well crafted.

If you don't agree that Guthrie Govan excels in every criteria you listed, then you are the one that is guitar illiterate.

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rockbotTOM

Has more of an influence on others? Please explain "others". His technique is sloppy? He's one of the most accurate guitar players in history. WTF kind of drugs are you on? Speed is subpar? When I said speed, I mean speed and being accurate with it. His accuracy has diminished probably because he's 57yrs old. Are you that naive? Aren't all that complex? Maybe some of his riffs aren't, but his solo's are out of this world. AKA - Eruption, Im the One, Ice Cream Man, Hot for Teacher for example. Guthrie Govan is a great guitarist no doubt, but to say he's a better guitar player than Eddie is a totally assinine assessment. You got your head too far up your a$$ to understand the concept of guitar greatness. I need not say anymore to you. If I need to explain any further, then you need major help.

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AsianMan

Wow. Someone needs to take a chill pill.

He influences a lot of other guitar players. His licks have inspired other guitar players. Others as in a good majority of guitar players. Even Guthrie.

His technique is sloppy. Much like Jimmy Pages technique. Sloppy doesn't always mean bad. Eddie doesn't play clean like Paul Gilbert does. Also, Steve Vai plays cleaner than Eddie and he's 52. Ages has nothing to do with it. Maybe it was all the Mind numbing drugs that he took during his career.

Your examples of why I say he is influential. They influenced other guitarists to learn from them and build them into better and more complex playing styles. Much like Jimi Hendrix. His playing is very very sloppy. But he influenced pretty much every guitarist that plays now.

Guthrie Govan is a better guitar player. It isn't asinine to say that since he has been playing since he was 3! His technique is far beyond Eddie's.

Here is a question. Can Eddie play Jazz, Country, and Fusion better than Guthrie Can? Can Eddie play like Steve Vai, BB King, Eric Johnson, Paul Gilbert, Zakk Wylde, and all the other greats as well as Guthrie can? Guthrie Govan is the epitome of Guitar Mastery. And even he thinks he hasn't mastered the instrument.

There is always going to be someone out there that is a better guitar player than the one you put so high up. There probably is someone better than Guthrie. I just haven't seen/heard of him/her yet. But what I know is there are many guitarists that are better than Eddie. That is a fact. If you are too narrow minded to realize this, then there is no help for you. You are on your own.

Later

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BTSLG

It's a shame Marty Friedman isn't even on the list ,especially considering Jason Becker, which is slightly better, is 46 and Dave Mustaine is 12, which is way way worse in my opinion , does guitar world hold a grudge against people currently in japan?

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3PuttChuck

I agree with your comment about Friedman. But this wasn't a contest for "best". It was a contest for "greatest", with criteria such as influence involved. Mustaine belongs somewhere around 15. I could see 20 or even the 12 spot where he ended up. He developed plenty of unusual techniques (some that get attributed to Metallica, but plenty after that as well). He influenced a massive amount of people to play and you probably haven't caught on to how many solos that he plays. He does a great deal with the pentatonic scale to be sure. But, more to the point, Jason Becker may be a "better" musician (and i stress the word MAY). But he doesn't crack the top 80 in this poll with "influence" and breadth of work included. Sorry. Friedman should be close to Mustaine for his chops, originality of style, and the massive influence his style had while he was with Megadeth. But I still give the edge in that argument to Dave.

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GEENGADE

Now that GW did a study on us. Their magazine will now reflect how to better sell a single issue. Everyone has given up information so valuable that they have researched us like lab rats. But there still one question. What will GW do for you today?

I hope GW will have more to gain and get more subscribers from this experience. And this is will be the last time we will probably see a contest like this. The world has opened up to GW.

GEENGADE My first concert Black Sabbath age 13 1975 Paranoid

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Dreamtheater247

Franckirk.. you know nothing about guitar and i signed up on this site just to tell you off. Gilbert can TAP WHILE PLAYING GUITAR and Steve Vai is undebatably a master of guitar.. He is a legend.. Him and John petrucci are my favorites =/. Hendrix's style was unique but I definitely wouldn't call him the best, I don't even like most of his music but i respect him.

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Dreamtheater247

Also Kirk Hammet is usually mocked by the guitar community but I do really like some of his work.

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Franckirk

The only number one is Joe Satriani, Kirk Hammett is the best Satriani's student, Gilbert and Vay are crap compared to Kirk

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spy6ter

you are just retarted....thats all...you cant compare steve vai to kirk hammett.Hammett plays the solos that hetfield wrote and they are all the same boring solos(based on pentatonic minor scale).On the other hand VAI created his own style and way of playing.(Vai plays a variety of modes and scales that he modified to his way of playing). now die

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Franckirk

well, I see. you like a guitarist have a unique style. true? I play with my foot and scales that I invent, you like that? not because it sucks, and Vay "chest cold" and Gilber "LOSER" are the same. Shit!

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Franckirk

Shit like Paul Gilbert and Steve Vay in the top 25? My god! Kirk Hammett and B.B King are better than them!!!

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3PuttChuck

B.B. King, YES.

Kirk Hammett, absolutely not. He made it into that band and stayed there this long because he is very good (not great) and he is very amiable. That is excatly what Lars and James needed after Mustaine. Someone very agreeable (and still good) that they could put there thumbs on easliy. But he never inspired me. Nor many other people that I know. The complicated and inventive rhythm guitar and harmony parts are what make Metallica great. James is inspirational as a player. Hammett could have been replaced with lots of better musicians than himself and no one would have blinked. I say that with no disrespect intended. He is a thousand times better than me. But, Vai and Gilbert are much much better and I think even more influential in "style". Hammett doesn't do anything even style-wise that hasn't already been done and quite often done better. Think of it this way. If 50 guitarists layed down 50 short solos all using the same exact equipment whose do you think you could pick out of the group of no-names easier; Hammett, Vai, Gilbert? I'm guessing the latter two would be profoundly easier to spot. All love and Peace!

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Franckirk

Well, first: Eddie Van Halen? we all know that Jimi Hendrix was the best ... is a guitar god!!!
and shit like Paul Gilbert and Steve Vay in the top 25? My god! Clapton and Angus Young are better than them!

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qqqq

Jake E Lee made the bracket, but not the top 100? Alex Lifeson in the top 10? Brian May beats Jimmy Paige? Not sure how people were voting, but I ended up hating this poll.

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Olyster

Totally agree with you !

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IrishConnor1994

Joe Perry in 75th place?? Really?

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oneunder

There is no number 1. Every great guitarist has their own unique contribution to the guitar world. Grow up people.

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AsianMan

Well if we all realized that then Guitar World wouldn't have made the strives to find a "#1".

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DKAXE

The problem with the poll was the match-ups. For example, having Rory Gallagher face Jimmy Page in the first round is like having the 76's play the Wizards and the Heat play the Bulls in the first round and then ranking the winner of the 76's-Wizards contest higher than the loser of the Bulls-Heat contest. Several guitarists made the top 20 based on weak match-ups along the way and several of the all-time best were defeated early on.

Next time they do this I would like to see realistic seeding instead of trying to match-up by style.

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ipsofacto

This is a very good point that I overlooked. Several top-notch players went out in the very 1st round...while lesser players facing weaker competition were able to win and carry-on...collecting more votes in the process. The order of this list has very little credibility.

I suggest that the next time that Guitar World conducts such a poll, that voters should be required to submit their subscription # in order to vote. Either that or AT LEAST a UPC code from a recent off-the-rack purchase of the magazine.

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ipsofacto

EDITED:

With the tournament format that this poll had, it could logically be deduced (with a reasonable amount of scientific certainty) that the overall winner (EVH) would most likely defeat every other player on the list if matched-up against them.

However, the player that should have been matched-up against Eddie in the final is still in question due to the fact that Brian May cheated in his rounds against Page and Hendrix using his Facebook and Twitter accounts to solicit votes.

If May had not done so, he most certainly would have been defeated by either Page in the quarterfinals or Hendrix in the semi's...resulting in a different match-up in the finals...and maybe even a different overall winner.

Nevertheless, despite this grievous error, in NO WAY can you possibly rank the rest of the players based on the number of votes that they received (especially in the case of May). You probably had rounds varying in number of votes from merely a couple of thousand...to rounds that received more than 20,000 (from cheating).

In fairness to GW, they too probably didn't foresee the player/band FB factor. Although in the later rounds, they were in fact sending links some or all the players/bands during match-ups.

From previous comments in the poll, GW must now be aware of the number of significant players that were overlooked from their original list: Jabs, Emmett, Smith, DeMartini, Fisk, Bream...and whoever else of significance that they missed. So it seems kind of pointless to try and rank them, considering the list is significantly incomplete in the first place.

Also, I don't know all the players on the list, but I do know that several of them are fairly elementary in their playing skills and simply don't belong, in comparison to the names mentioned above. The result is a list of players and ranking order that is a complete flop all around.

One way that you could have fixed this problem (and still could) is have voters take a week and submit their rankings for the entire list. Then simply calculate the mean average rank for each player.

This method would not only add credibility to the poll, but it would also eliminate any contamination votes from external sites. NO ONE but a guitar player or a serious music lover would go to the extent of ranking 100+ players.

Could nobody on the GW staff think of this??

At any rate, as it sits now, your list of the Top 100 players has about as much credibility as Rolling Stone's version. None

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Gerry1964

JUST WANNA SAY EVH ALSO USED SOCIAL NETWORKS TO GET HIS VOTES IN TOO,
SO DONT JUST PICK ON BRIAN MAY, IT WAS ALL ABOVE BOARD, COS IF IT WAS CHEATING EVH AND MAY WOULD HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED FOR FOUL PLAY.
YOU AND OTHERS JUST WONT ACCEPT THE WAY THINGS TURNED OUT.
DONT PUT THESE RESULTS IN STONE, COS EACH GUITARIST POLL IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
PERSONALLY I VOTED FOR "MAY" COS HES A DAMN GOOD GUITARIST!

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ipsofacto

There is no doubt that Brian May belongs on this list...perhaps even in the top 30, but the only reason that he made it to #2 is from cheating. And shouting at everyone with capital letters won't change that fact.

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ruas

Since 1978 (in my opnion) Eddie is the "greatest influencer". i'm very van halen's fan, but i know that eddie isn't greater than Jimi. Eddie can even do more things and yada yada yada but everybody knows that Jimi is the Greatest of all time.

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Axemeister

This poll is pretty sad.. Its like a bunch of 13 year old girls voting for Justin Bieber as the greatest singer of all time..Guitar World is a mostly metal magazine, and their readership has dubious judging skills. Putting EVH above Jimi, Jeff Beck and several other greats is really way off-base.

No offense to Eddie, but he has a limited range of tricks and there are so many others who deserved better ratings.

Many years ago Musician Magazine published an article about an Ernie Ball NAMM party where Eddie got up on stage with Albert Lee and Steve Morse, among others.. All that Eddie could do was taps, feedback and elephant roars, while the others played circles around him in various styles.. Eddie is great, but he is not the greatest.

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Sergeant3Way

Personally, my favorite guitarists are Ed and Angus. I'm satisfied that Ed won, but some of the rankings are terrible. I think, instead of an online poll, have it where there are ballots in the issue of the one month, and have people send in their votes. The results would be more based on guitar players opinions rather than just fans on the groups or bands on Facebook. Although it would be harder to tally up, it would mean better results, and less anger on the site. I do think it is strange though that May beat out many of the other amazing guitarists in this poll. It is hard to compare a lot of these players though. Different genres, styles, etc. But, in the end, I think (my opinion), Ed deserves this. He has done quite a lot. Floyd Rose, D-Tuna, guitar tone, guitar building, playing styles, techniques. He may not be the best right now, but he sure is the reason for a lot of the best players out there, past and present.

My 2 cents!

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bluzmn59

The list is crap and there a lot of guitarists on that list better than EVH. And where, oh where, is Julian Bream? But this is what happens with these popularity contests.

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oneunder

You're wrong, dip shit.

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ipsofacto

bluzmn59 is correct, in the fact that many players like Bream ARE missing. And there's no need for that kind of rudeness here.

nursetom61

I just can't believe how this poll turned out. I was truly enjoying the poll and all the aspects of it, including the posts and comments. Then the unthinkable happened. One or more FANS posted it on one or more fan sites via social media, and it became a farce. What once started as a poll amongst Guitar World readers (guitar players) turned into a contest of who had the most Facebook fans. That is when it turned ugly. I really enjoyed this poll above others because it was for GUITAR PLAYERS. The whole Facebook and Twitter debacle was an outrage, GW should just take the whole thing down and apologize to the real READERS of GW (guitar players) I mean really Brian May? EVH #1 I guess if you are looking for the #1 Tapper it would be EVH but guitarists #1 should be Hendrix or maybe Clapton,SRV,Page,any one of the three Kings, the list goes on. I know a lot of guitarists will say EVH deserves to be #1, but think about the criteria you set forth. EVH maybe top 20 but #1, no way! Hendrix has always been voted #1 for a reason.

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oneunder

Hendrix sucks!

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KINGDON

Clapton? Really? The absolute most overrated hack Ive ever heard, not even in the top 200. Such a cliche to say Clapton, the guy stinks.

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daniloanp@bsd.com.br

In the last forty years Clapton has been overrated. I Agree, but do you listened Blusbreakers with Eric Clapton and firsts three Cream albums? These was the great Clapton. If clapton is the most Overrated guitarrist then Jimmy Hendrix is the 2nd most overrated guitarrist.
The absolute majority of persons choose one guitarristist for either him favourite band or for him speed or for the amount of noise that he can emit. Clapton may don't be the best but surely is in the top 50, and probably in the top 10.

Listen music and read about it. After, if you disagree of Clapton's geniality then I accept it.

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GreenBird

I think this final list was very disappointing, but it was fun to count them down. In the end I do not think people who really play guitar dictated the outcome of this poll. It was fan bases and active PR on the part of some guitarist. If this poll had been put together by people who actually play guitar it would look very very different. I think even the people at GW would agree with that. In the end that is what it comes down too, who voted guitarist or simply fans who do not really know much about playing guitar.

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arew22

Please don't equate the outcome of this entertaining but goofy "reader's poll" with a top 100 guitarist ranking. There are clearly guitarists that most of us readers would place in the top 30, but because of an early loss, you have them in the 80s or 90s? Give your readers a little credit, Guitar World.

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MrVengeance7

are you kidding me? you have keith richards and jeff beck in the 40's. that is just plain stupid. they are the legends. you have all those "shredders" in the 20's ahead of them. im not saying that they aren't good guitarists, because they are, but to put them in front of people like Keith and Jeff and George harrison, thats just stupid. and whats up with Pete Townshend being in the 80's???? now that is just.....

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KINGDON

Keith Richards, also overrated, the guy can barely play, just because they're legends doesn't mean they can play. Bob Dylan is a legend, the guy can't sing worth a shit.

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redstrat8

KEITH RICHARDS CAN PLAY DAM HE DID WRITE A FEW SONGS HA HA

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fvegas

It is absurd to turn this "tournament" into a ranked list. John 5 #99 just because he happened to be paired up against Dimebag in the first round??? Give me a break - he should easily be in the top 10 for his chops and versatility. This was fun, but there's no way you can turn it into a ranked list due to the nature of tournament style voting.

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shadowofaday

Dude John 5 is WAY overrated. The worst part of the poll was Dimebag losing To Lifeson... flowed by Laiho vs. Wylde. Thirdly Iommi vs. Mustaine... Petrucci should have beat Them both but that one was a close match with Mustaine so it is understandable. Finally starting Syn vs Laiho in round one????? Really??? But overall I loved this poll. It was decently accurate and pretty fun to be in :)

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KINGDON

Lifeson totally crushes douche bag, so much more complete, so much more versatile...douche bag shouldn't be anywhere in the top 100.

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oneunder

You're the douche bag.

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Turboscab

Please....whoever is responsible for this ranking should never touch a guitar again...I don't mind to have Eddie among the 10 best in the world..but seriously: Mark Knopfler is somewhere in the 90's?? Are you out of your mind? You have Shredders in the top 20!!?? Ingwie is not at least in the Top10????
Alright, here is a Ranking that comes closer to the reality guys:
1. Steve Vai
2. Joe Satriani
3. Adrian Vandenberg
4. Doug Aldrich
5. Yngwie Malmsteen
6. Mark Knopfler
7. David Gilmour
8. Slash
9. Gary Moore
10. Ritchie Sambora

Take that and learn...

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KINGDON

Ha ha, except for Gilmour, a list of all my most hated hacks...Malmsteen, If I'm only interested in listening to someone practising scales....terrible.

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bluzmn59

The only top-10 list Yngwie belongs on is top-10 over-inflated egos. Richie Sambora? Really?

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errbt

All we've learned are who your top 10 favorite players are...nothing more, nothing less.

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errbt

Also,the fact that you are unable to separate your own bias when considering the all time greats is a bit sad, though it seems to the norm these days. For example, Jimi Hendrix & Jimi Page are not in my top 10 personal favorite players, but I would never question their place in the top 10 of "greatest rock guitarists ever" due to, in Page's case, his staggering body of work & his stylistic range, & in Hendrix's case, his status as a game changer. Doing otherwise would be like me trying to say my personal favorite list of NHL players = the greatest ever, for example...it is just a stupid way to go about things. My favorite player ever, by far, is Steve Yzerman. While I would also include him in my top 10 best of all time (maybe even top 5), I would understand that many others wouldn't, and I would NEVER be delusional enough to put him ahead of Gretzky, Bobby Orr, or even Mario Lemieux, even though none of them are among my personal favorites. I simply have too much understanding of, and WAY too much respect for, the history of the game and the changes that certain revolutionary players (mainly Orr & Gretzky) ushered in to allow my personal blinders to warp things. THIS is what way too many people fail to do in polls like these. Speaking of the people who voted in all the brackets, they are all "who is responsible for these rankings". All guitar world did was rank players my most total votes (or some similar formula) in order to create this list.

ps oops, make that "All we've learned IS", not "are" in my first comment above...can't edit it for whatever reason, and now I'm stuck sounding like George Dubya.

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Sinnerswing27

Edward Van Halen is the greatest.

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6bpanorama

Its been fun guitarworld thanks

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